What is Al ANON, and how does it aim to help families of alcoholics live happier and healthier lives?

My family was, and to a lesser extent still are, members of a local Al ANON chapter. They have found the group meetings to be very helpful, and as such I would not hesitate to recommend the meetings to anyone suffering through the pain of a loved one’s addiction to alcohol. The AL ANON mission to is to teach and council families affected by an alcoholic’s drinking how to live happier and healthier lives.

The AL ANON philosophy is that the drinking of a loved one can have a profound impact on the health and happiness of those close to that person; and through reactions to the drinking, feelings of shame and anger, and a sense of personal responsibility over the drinking of an alcoholic, family members can be as addicted to that person’s alcoholism, as the alcoholic is to alcohol! Al ANON is an anonymous and non profit organization that aims to help family member’s live happier and healthier lives, whether the alcoholic family member is drinking or not.

Al ANON is a spiritual organization, but no particular religion is mentioned, and people from any beliefs set are more than welcome to attend. Family members are invited to speak at the meetings, but participation is entirely at the individual’s discretion, and if anyone chooses to remain silent, they are free to do so. Al ANON members practice a twelve step program to recovery from the pain of a family member’s alcoholism, and they also educate on how to support the alcoholic in their personal battle against addiction in a healthy and positive way.

Through shared storied of hope and the understanding of others in a very similar situation, Al ANON can offer empowerment, and offer some degree of peace to any family member suffering through the pain of a loved one’s addiction. My family has found the group to be very valuable, and as such I would encourage anyone suffering through the addiction of a family member to at the very least give a meeting a try, and see if it seems beneficial to you. The pain caused by alcoholism resonates through the family. AL ANON helps to ease some of the pain, and makes for a healthier and happier family as a whole.

My family was, and to a lesser extent still are, members of a local Al ANON chapter. They have found the group meetings to be very helpful, and as such I would not hesitate to recommend the meetings to anyone suffering through the pain of a loved one’s addiction to alcohol. The AL ANON mission to is to teach and council families affected by an alcoholic’s drinking how to live happier and healthier lives.

The AL ANON philosophy is that the drinking of a loved one can have a profound impact on the health and happiness of those close to that person; and through reactions to the drinking, feelings of shame and anger, and a sense of personal responsibility over the drinking of an alcoholic, family members can be as addicted to that person’s alcoholism, as the alcoholic is to alcohol! Al ANON is an anonymous and non profit organization that aims to help family member’s live happier and healthier lives, whether the alcoholic family member is drinking or not.

Al ANON is a spiritual organization, but no particular religion is mentioned, and people from any beliefs set are more than welcome to attend. Family members are invited to speak at the meetings, but participation is entirely at the individual’s discretion, and if anyone chooses to remain silent, they are free to do so. Al ANON members practice a twelve step program to recovery from the pain of a family member’s alcoholism, and they also educate on how to support the alcoholic in their personal battle against addiction in a healthy and positive way.

Through shared storied of hope and the understanding of others in a very similar situation, Al ANON can offer empowerment, and offer some degree of peace to any family member suffering through the pain of a loved one’s addiction. My family has found the group to be very valuable, and as such I would encourage anyone suffering through the addiction of a family member to at the very least give a meeting a try, and see if it seems beneficial to you. The pain caused by alcoholism resonates through the family. AL ANON helps to ease some of the pain, and makes for a healthier and happier family as a whole.

The Christian 12 Steps

The founding fathers of Alcoholics Anonymous wanted to reduce any barriers to entry into their lifesaving spiritual program; and so although devout Christians, these men decided to organize their recovery group as a spiritual but secular recovery organization. Which considering the religious climate of the time, was a remarkably inclusive and modern act of forethought; and has allowed millions of non Christians to benefit from an organization of hope, guidance and sobriety.

Pray to Jesus

But although the terms God or Jesus are replaced with higher power, the philosophies and Faith based teachings are all very Christian in nature, and AA does mandate a belief in a higher power to follow the 12 steps to recovery. Because the roots and philosophies are so closely linked to Christianity and a belief in God, the use of AA in Christian rehab programs is not much of a stretch; and when used in a Christian facility, instead of praying to a higher power, prayer is directed as a group towards a Christian God and to Jesus Christ. Because a Christian recovery group prays to the same God, recovering drug and alcohol addicts can unite in prayer together, enjoy stories of faith and spiritual recovery through God’s will, and use bible readings and scripture study for discussion and meditation within the programming and meetings of a Christian 12 steps group.

To truly follow the 12 steps, you need to accept God into your heart, you need to pray to God to make you a better person by removing some of your weaknesses and shortcomings; and you need to look and pray to God for spiritual guidance, enabling you to live a better and meaningful life of sobriety. AA can’t work without an acceptance of powerlessness, and since prayer remains essential to recovery, it makes sense for Christian men and women to unite together in groups where that prayer is unified and directed at a shared God and with a shared Faith.

Christian 12 steps meetings are meaningful to the faithful

Christian 12 steps recovery groups take what’s effective about the AA program and make it more meaningful by teaching the lessons of the Christian Faith and adding the true lessons of the Bible into the recovery matrix. I remain active in the AA support group I started in all those years ago, but I also enjoy an occasional meeting with fellow Christian addicts in recovery within my Church community.

There is something elemental and profound about joining together and seeking spiritual guidance towards betterment with others who share a similar belief and conviction, and although I’m grateful for the fellowship of my original AA group, I do appreciate joining with fellow Christians for group prayers to Jesus Christ in our communal battle for sobriety. You can find Christian 12 steps groups through most churches and Christian community groups, and Christian rehabs generally use the 12 Christian steps as a part of their recovery programming.

The 12 steps of AA don’t work for everyone, but they do work for many, and AA has saved many millions of lives since its inception. For Christians, combining what’s great about AA with a true expression of your Faith makes it more powerful, more relevant, and I believe better able to offer success and sobriety. I encourage all Christians in recovery to join a Christian 12 steps meeting, and enjoy Christian fellowship and shared recovery through Jesus Christ.

The founding fathers of Alcoholics Anonymous wanted to reduce any barriers to entry into their lifesaving spiritual program; and so although devout Christians, these men decided to organize their recovery group as a spiritual but secular recovery organization. Which considering the religious climate of the time, was a remarkably inclusive and modern act of forethought; and has allowed millions of non Christians to benefit from an organization of hope, guidance and sobriety.

Pray to Jesus

But although the terms God or Jesus are replaced with higher power, the philosophies and Faith based teachings are all very Christian in nature, and AA does mandate a belief in a higher power to follow the 12 steps to recovery. Because the roots and philosophies are so closely linked to Christianity and a belief in God, the use of AA in Christian rehab programs is not much of a stretch; and when used in a Christian facility, instead of praying to a higher power, prayer is directed as a group towards a Christian God and to Jesus Christ. Because a Christian recovery group prays to the same God, recovering drug and alcohol addicts can unite in prayer together, enjoy stories of faith and spiritual recovery through God’s will, and use bible readings and scripture study for discussion and meditation within the programming and meetings of a Christian 12 steps group.

To truly follow the 12 steps, you need to accept God into your heart, you need to pray to God to make you a better person by removing some of your weaknesses and shortcomings; and you need to look and pray to God for spiritual guidance, enabling you to live a better and meaningful life of sobriety. AA can’t work without an acceptance of powerlessness, and since prayer remains essential to recovery, it makes sense for Christian men and women to unite together in groups where that prayer is unified and directed at a shared God and with a shared Faith.

Christian 12 steps meetings are meaningful to the faithful

Christian 12 steps recovery groups take what’s effective about the AA program and make it more meaningful by teaching the lessons of the Christian Faith and adding the true lessons of the Bible into the recovery matrix. I remain active in the AA support group I started in all those years ago, but I also enjoy an occasional meeting with fellow Christian addicts in recovery within my Church community.

There is something elemental and profound about joining together and seeking spiritual guidance towards betterment with others who share a similar belief and conviction, and although I’m grateful for the fellowship of my original AA group, I do appreciate joining with fellow Christians for group prayers to Jesus Christ in our communal battle for sobriety. You can find Christian 12 steps groups through most churches and Christian community groups, and Christian rehabs generally use the 12 Christian steps as a part of their recovery programming.

The 12 steps of AA don’t work for everyone, but they do work for many, and AA has saved many millions of lives since its inception. For Christians, combining what’s great about AA with a true expression of your Faith makes it more powerful, more relevant, and I believe better able to offer success and sobriety. I encourage all Christians in recovery to join a Christian 12 steps meeting, and enjoy Christian fellowship and shared recovery through Jesus Christ.

Research proves that the Al Anon method of encouragement and support is the best way to help a recovering addict stay sober

The Al Anon philosophy: Al-Anon has but one purpose to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.

I’ve praised al anon before, but recent research seems to prove that the al anon method of encouragement helps alcoholics in recovery stay sober. Family support is of paramount importance to the newly recovering alcoholic, and family support can make the difference between continuing sobriety and relapse.

The al anon program teaches families how to heal themselves from the pain of addiction that always resonates through the family, and that additionally teaches that the best way they can help the alcoholic is to remain encouraging and supportive, and never to criticize or nag. A recent study from the State University of New York at Buffalo looked at this scientifically, and found that the al anon philosophy of encouragement does seem to be helpful.

Research Proven? 

Research indicates that men who were in recovery and perceived that their wives were critical of them were far more likely to relapse back to drinking than those that said their wives were supportive of their recovery. The study leader also reported that families that got some form of therapy together were far more supportive of the recovering alcoholic, and these alcoholics were as a result far more likely to remain sober.

Family involvement in recovery is important, and perceived criticism of the recovery process can lead men back to substance abuse. The best way for families to support the process is to become involved in the treatment through family or couples therapy sessions, and also to participate in family support organizations like al anon, that teach the family how best to encourage the alcoholic, whether they are drinking or not. Addiction always causes pain, and it sure destroys a lot of families, and criticism is likely a legacy of all of the suffering caused by the alcoholic while drinking; but if a spouse and a family truly want to help, the best thing they can do is to remain encouraging and supportive, even when they don’t necessarily feel that way.

 It gets easier with time, and a period of sobriety begins to heal a lot of what was. If you want to help, bite your tongue…it’s worth it in the long run.

The Al Anon philosophy: Al-Anon has but one purpose to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.

I’ve praised al anon before, but recent research seems to prove that the al anon method of encouragement helps alcoholics in recovery stay sober. Family support is of paramount importance to the newly recovering alcoholic, and family support can make the difference between continuing sobriety and relapse.

The al anon program teaches families how to heal themselves from the pain of addiction that always resonates through the family, and that additionally teaches that the best way they can help the alcoholic is to remain encouraging and supportive, and never to criticize or nag. A recent study from the State University of New York at Buffalo looked at this scientifically, and found that the al anon philosophy of encouragement does seem to be helpful.

Research Proven? 

Research indicates that men who were in recovery and perceived that their wives were critical of them were far more likely to relapse back to drinking than those that said their wives were supportive of their recovery. The study leader also reported that families that got some form of therapy together were far more supportive of the recovering alcoholic, and these alcoholics were as a result far more likely to remain sober.

Family involvement in recovery is important, and perceived criticism of the recovery process can lead men back to substance abuse. The best way for families to support the process is to become involved in the treatment through family or couples therapy sessions, and also to participate in family support organizations like al anon, that teach the family how best to encourage the alcoholic, whether they are drinking or not. Addiction always causes pain, and it sure destroys a lot of families, and criticism is likely a legacy of all of the suffering caused by the alcoholic while drinking; but if a spouse and a family truly want to help, the best thing they can do is to remain encouraging and supportive, even when they don’t necessarily feel that way.

 It gets easier with time, and a period of sobriety begins to heal a lot of what was. If you want to help, bite your tongue…it’s worth it in the long run.

Is a belief in God a prerequisite for AA or other 12 steps programs?

Although AA and other notable 12 step organizations maintain they are merely spiritually based organizations without mandating a belief in a conventional God, many are skeptical; and recent court decisions have found with plaintiffs arguing that court mandated AA therapy violates the separation of church and state enshrined within the constitution.

The fact is that when AA came to prominence in the early 1900’s, the worldview of the majority of Americans differed substantially from the more cosmopolitan and varied views that better reflect the beliefs of today’s Americans; and when you consider the context in which the organization was created, it’s remarkable that any attempt was made to limit the Christianity so prominent in its creation, and to call for mere spirituality as a way to ensure equal access to the program for all.

Whatever you call it though, AA isn’t likely to change, and with 80 years of history and success behind it, nor should it be required to. One of the cornerstones of the AA program is a belief in, and a submission to, a higher power; and an acceptance of powerlessness over addiction before that higher power. This higher power is prayed to for strength and guidance, and an admission of character faults and transgressions is made to this higher power. Whether you call it God or something else, without a belief in something greater than yourself, AA or any of the other 12 steps programs doesn’t offer much of value.

So without a belief in God, does AA offer any hope towards recovery?

It depends. The necessity of a belief in something greater than yourself proves an insurmountable barrier to access for many, and equally, many who have no traditional belief in god or religion find a way to work within the system, and find a power acceptable to their internal beliefs that allows for success and sobriety within the program. There are a great many agnostics and even atheists that have been helped by this seemingly "God" centered program, and if they can find help through AA, maybe anyone can.

  • Some common suggestions for people grappling with an inability to submit to a higher power are to consider the group itself, and the strength offered by the fellowship of alcoholics as the higher power. Although not a higher power in the traditional sense, the group of AA members does offer much of the same support and guidance as is called for in a belief in a higher power.
  • Alternatively, although many do not believe in any form of traditional god, there are undeniably powers larger than us in operation within the universe; and whatever power makes the flowers bloom, the birds sing, and the stars circle in the heavens can sometimes be used as a guiding force for people grappling with personal battles.
  • Another recommended approach is to use the power and guidance of a loved ancestor. Whether or not your dead relative resides in a Judeo Christian heaven, or in some altogether different form, their "spirit" lives on at the very least within memories, and some recovering addicts have found that using the guidance of a dead relative can supplant a more traditional requirement for a belief in a God.

For some, an inability to authentically use the forces of a power greater than themselves in a recovery limits the benefits possible within any 12 steps communities; and for others, even without a traditional belief system in a higher power, AA works very well.

Many who don’t believe in God in a traditional sense have found some acceptable internal belief in a higher power that allows for their continued sobriety and participation within the AA community and within the fellowship of other addicts in recovery. My suggestion would be to give it a try, and don’t allow a perceived conflict of metaphysical beliefs to limit your potential involvement in an organization that has helped so many. Many AA members have found ways to work within the system, and many of these did not at first feel that AA could ever offer them effective support due to their disbelief in a traditional God.

Although AA and other notable 12 step organizations maintain they are merely spiritually based organizations without mandating a belief in a conventional God, many are skeptical; and recent court decisions have found with plaintiffs arguing that court mandated AA therapy violates the separation of church and state enshrined within the constitution.

The fact is that when AA came to prominence in the early 1900’s, the worldview of the majority of Americans differed substantially from the more cosmopolitan and varied views that better reflect the beliefs of today’s Americans; and when you consider the context in which the organization was created, it’s remarkable that any attempt was made to limit the Christianity so prominent in its creation, and to call for mere spirituality as a way to ensure equal access to the program for all.

Whatever you call it though, AA isn’t likely to change, and with 80 years of history and success behind it, nor should it be required to. One of the cornerstones of the AA program is a belief in, and a submission to, a higher power; and an acceptance of powerlessness over addiction before that higher power. This higher power is prayed to for strength and guidance, and an admission of character faults and transgressions is made to this higher power. Whether you call it God or something else, without a belief in something greater than yourself, AA or any of the other 12 steps programs doesn’t offer much of value.

So without a belief in God, does AA offer any hope towards recovery?

It depends. The necessity of a belief in something greater than yourself proves an insurmountable barrier to access for many, and equally, many who have no traditional belief in god or religion find a way to work within the system, and find a power acceptable to their internal beliefs that allows for success and sobriety within the program. There are a great many agnostics and even atheists that have been helped by this seemingly "God" centered program, and if they can find help through AA, maybe anyone can.

  • Some common suggestions for people grappling with an inability to submit to a higher power are to consider the group itself, and the strength offered by the fellowship of alcoholics as the higher power. Although not a higher power in the traditional sense, the group of AA members does offer much of the same support and guidance as is called for in a belief in a higher power.
  • Alternatively, although many do not believe in any form of traditional god, there are undeniably powers larger than us in operation within the universe; and whatever power makes the flowers bloom, the birds sing, and the stars circle in the heavens can sometimes be used as a guiding force for people grappling with personal battles.
  • Another recommended approach is to use the power and guidance of a loved ancestor. Whether or not your dead relative resides in a Judeo Christian heaven, or in some altogether different form, their "spirit" lives on at the very least within memories, and some recovering addicts have found that using the guidance of a dead relative can supplant a more traditional requirement for a belief in a God.

For some, an inability to authentically use the forces of a power greater than themselves in a recovery limits the benefits possible within any 12 steps communities; and for others, even without a traditional belief system in a higher power, AA works very well.

Many who don’t believe in God in a traditional sense have found some acceptable internal belief in a higher power that allows for their continued sobriety and participation within the AA community and within the fellowship of other addicts in recovery. My suggestion would be to give it a try, and don’t allow a perceived conflict of metaphysical beliefs to limit your potential involvement in an organization that has helped so many. Many AA members have found ways to work within the system, and many of these did not at first feel that AA could ever offer them effective support due to their disbelief in a traditional God.

Why everyone in recovery needs to make amends for past misdeeds

I believe that making amends, an important part of recovery through the 12 steps process, should be incorporated into any philosophy of recovery and addiction treatment.

Whether or not you subscribe to a belief in the value of AA or other 12 steps programs, few can deny the healing power of making full restitution, and that making amends reduces the guilt and shame that if left unresolved, can too often lead us back to abuse. AA worked and works for me, and I subscribe to their particular theory of recovery, but I understand that the program is not right for everyone, and no one approach can ever hope to meet the needs of diverse people in society. Yet I cannot help but think that if only one aspect of AA recovery should be imported to other programs, it should be the belief that by making amends, we heal others and as well reduce the future temptations to abuse.

During a period of abuse, there is a cognitive shift that occurs that allows us to act badly, without even being fully aware of the harms we are committing. We may also act badly knowing full well the implications of our actions, but are so driven towards abuse that our actions are almost beyond our control. Whatever the initial cause or motivations to our behaviors, our behaviors do create consequences, and during periods of sobriety and lucidity we can sometimes see how our behaviors affect others, and the shame and pain of these realizations is always best dealt with through escape into further intoxication.

Clean the Slate

Even after we get help and get sober, the memory of past transgressions remains, and with sobriety and increasing clarity, these memories are compounded. With sobriety comes a full awareness of the pain of our creation, and with awareness comes accompanying feelings of shame and regret. We can never take back our actions, and although making amends is sometimes insufficient to the pain we have caused, it is all we can reasonably do; and if amends are made honestly and with an open heart, much of the shame of our past misbehaviors can be minimized, if not erased entirely.

If we do not strive to make complete amends to all, our feelings of shame and regret can never truly end. Any time we see or even think about a person we have harmed, there is the accompanying negative emotional response, and with enough internalized negative emotions, the temptations towards abuse and escape increase.

Making amends to those that we have harmed is not only the right thing to do; it is also a great way to maximize the likelihood of long term sobriety.

It’s never easy to account for your actions, and the process of restitution is difficult and sometimes painful; but once complete, we can move forward, closing the book on our past misdeeds, and looking forward to a life of better conduct, service to others and sobriety. Pay back what you owe, apologize to those you have harmed, and right any wrong that you can; you’ll feel better, and you’ll have a better chance at a future of sober happiness.

I believe that making amends, an important part of recovery through the 12 steps process, should be incorporated into any philosophy of recovery and addiction treatment.

Whether or not you subscribe to a belief in the value of AA or other 12 steps programs, few can deny the healing power of making full restitution, and that making amends reduces the guilt and shame that if left unresolved, can too often lead us back to abuse. AA worked and works for me, and I subscribe to their particular theory of recovery, but I understand that the program is not right for everyone, and no one approach can ever hope to meet the needs of diverse people in society. Yet I cannot help but think that if only one aspect of AA recovery should be imported to other programs, it should be the belief that by making amends, we heal others and as well reduce the future temptations to abuse.

During a period of abuse, there is a cognitive shift that occurs that allows us to act badly, without even being fully aware of the harms we are committing. We may also act badly knowing full well the implications of our actions, but are so driven towards abuse that our actions are almost beyond our control. Whatever the initial cause or motivations to our behaviors, our behaviors do create consequences, and during periods of sobriety and lucidity we can sometimes see how our behaviors affect others, and the shame and pain of these realizations is always best dealt with through escape into further intoxication.

Clean the Slate

Even after we get help and get sober, the memory of past transgressions remains, and with sobriety and increasing clarity, these memories are compounded. With sobriety comes a full awareness of the pain of our creation, and with awareness comes accompanying feelings of shame and regret. We can never take back our actions, and although making amends is sometimes insufficient to the pain we have caused, it is all we can reasonably do; and if amends are made honestly and with an open heart, much of the shame of our past misbehaviors can be minimized, if not erased entirely.

If we do not strive to make complete amends to all, our feelings of shame and regret can never truly end. Any time we see or even think about a person we have harmed, there is the accompanying negative emotional response, and with enough internalized negative emotions, the temptations towards abuse and escape increase.

Making amends to those that we have harmed is not only the right thing to do; it is also a great way to maximize the likelihood of long term sobriety.

It’s never easy to account for your actions, and the process of restitution is difficult and sometimes painful; but once complete, we can move forward, closing the book on our past misdeeds, and looking forward to a life of better conduct, service to others and sobriety. Pay back what you owe, apologize to those you have harmed, and right any wrong that you can; you’ll feel better, and you’ll have a better chance at a future of sober happiness.

Is AA right for you?

I don’t think that AA is for everyone, but because it has helped so many, it’s worth it to try a few meetings out for yourself, and decide whether AA might just offer you the support you need to stay sober.

Firstly, I have to say that AA has worked and is working for me, and I always recommend that people struggling to get or stay sober give the meetings a try. I find the support of other alcoholics and the 12 step program empowering and strengthening, and it really helps me to live one day at a time without drugs or alcohol. But, I recognize that it’s not for everyone, and if it doesn’t work for you there is no point in beating a dead horse, just try something else.

In my opinion there is far too much internal debate amongst both addicts and professionals about the relative merits of AA…or whether AA is a cult, or the only answer or whatever!

AA works for a lot of people, and has a long track record of success, and that should be enough. AA doesn’t ask for your money or your life, and you are free to go or not go to a meeting at your discretion. I don’t feel that AA is cultish in any way, and am grateful that there have been meetings available for me as I’ve struggled through some dark days and nights trying to stay sober. Although AA maintains an interfaith philosophy, there is a requirement that members call for strength from a higher power, and this can be problematic for some without a belief in God; while others in AA, even those that are agnostic or even atheist, find a way to make the AA credo work for them, within their own particular framework of beliefs.

AA isn’t a missionary organization, and isn’t trying to convert you to Christianity. Believe what you believe, and if you can make that fit within the framework of AA, all the better. What I say is give it a try. The meetings are very welcoming places, and new members are encouraged to open up at their own pace. You’ve got nothing to lose by attending a meeting or two, and possibly everything to gain. Like any organization, the meetings at one location, with certain attendees, will vary greatly from the meetings at another, so try a few out, and find the one that feels best to you.

Go as often as you need to and take the advice of others that have succeeded and are in control of their alcoholism. If after giving AA a real attempt, you don’t find it to be right for you, don’t get discouraged; simply try something else. We’re all very different, and there is no such thing as a stereotypical addict; and as such what works well for one, or even for most, won’t necessarily work well for everyone. If AA isn’t working for you, seek advice on other available alternatives, and keep trying aftercare support programs until you find the one that feels right, and works for you.

Other Options

If AA isn’t a good fit, you may find regular counseling with an addictions specialist or addictions therapist helpful. Other organizations that offer after care support are S.O.S. (Secular organizations for Sobriety) that concentrate on recovery without a religious element, Christian recovery groups, that increase the use of Jesus Christ in recovery, Women for Sobriety, a woman’s only organization, Rational recovery, and many others.

Find what works for you and stick with it. Getting at least some aftercare support really increases the likelihood of long term sobriety, and as your period of sobriety increases, you may be able to taper down your need for support services. AA is there to help, and it works for a lot of people when nothing else does. Because AA has proven so successful for so long, even if you feel unsure about the organization, or have heard some negatives about the philosophy, I would urge you to give it a try and make up your own mind.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what works, as long as it does; and you just need to keep on searching until you get the support and inspiration you need to stay sober and live a happy life without abuse.

I don’t think that AA is for everyone, but because it has helped so many, it’s worth it to try a few meetings out for yourself, and decide whether AA might just offer you the support you need to stay sober.

Firstly, I have to say that AA has worked and is working for me, and I always recommend that people struggling to get or stay sober give the meetings a try. I find the support of other alcoholics and the 12 step program empowering and strengthening, and it really helps me to live one day at a time without drugs or alcohol. But, I recognize that it’s not for everyone, and if it doesn’t work for you there is no point in beating a dead horse, just try something else.

In my opinion there is far too much internal debate amongst both addicts and professionals about the relative merits of AA…or whether AA is a cult, or the only answer or whatever!

AA works for a lot of people, and has a long track record of success, and that should be enough. AA doesn’t ask for your money or your life, and you are free to go or not go to a meeting at your discretion. I don’t feel that AA is cultish in any way, and am grateful that there have been meetings available for me as I’ve struggled through some dark days and nights trying to stay sober. Although AA maintains an interfaith philosophy, there is a requirement that members call for strength from a higher power, and this can be problematic for some without a belief in God; while others in AA, even those that are agnostic or even atheist, find a way to make the AA credo work for them, within their own particular framework of beliefs.

AA isn’t a missionary organization, and isn’t trying to convert you to Christianity. Believe what you believe, and if you can make that fit within the framework of AA, all the better. What I say is give it a try. The meetings are very welcoming places, and new members are encouraged to open up at their own pace. You’ve got nothing to lose by attending a meeting or two, and possibly everything to gain. Like any organization, the meetings at one location, with certain attendees, will vary greatly from the meetings at another, so try a few out, and find the one that feels best to you.

Go as often as you need to and take the advice of others that have succeeded and are in control of their alcoholism. If after giving AA a real attempt, you don’t find it to be right for you, don’t get discouraged; simply try something else. We’re all very different, and there is no such thing as a stereotypical addict; and as such what works well for one, or even for most, won’t necessarily work well for everyone. If AA isn’t working for you, seek advice on other available alternatives, and keep trying aftercare support programs until you find the one that feels right, and works for you.

Other Options

If AA isn’t a good fit, you may find regular counseling with an addictions specialist or addictions therapist helpful. Other organizations that offer after care support are S.O.S. (Secular organizations for Sobriety) that concentrate on recovery without a religious element, Christian recovery groups, that increase the use of Jesus Christ in recovery, Women for Sobriety, a woman’s only organization, Rational recovery, and many others.

Find what works for you and stick with it. Getting at least some aftercare support really increases the likelihood of long term sobriety, and as your period of sobriety increases, you may be able to taper down your need for support services. AA is there to help, and it works for a lot of people when nothing else does. Because AA has proven so successful for so long, even if you feel unsure about the organization, or have heard some negatives about the philosophy, I would urge you to give it a try and make up your own mind.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what works, as long as it does; and you just need to keep on searching until you get the support and inspiration you need to stay sober and live a happy life without abuse.

NA versus AA

I did not have as much of a problem with Alcohol as I did with Drugs. I go to AA (alcoholics anonymous) though; I do not go to NA (narcotics anonymous) really. AA seems to have much better sobriety. One of the reasons it is better is because it is considered the root of the twelve step programs. I have not met one person in AA who never abused a pill. Many newcomers, particularly male, choose to go to NA first, because they are considered addicts and not alcoholics. There is also a large group of young people in NA. In NA you can openly talk about drugs while in AA it is a little less accepted. I know many people who hardly drank ever but they choose to combat their addiction by going to AA. If you were a heroin addict all your life and then one day the only drug left in the world is Alcohol, you’re going to be an alcoholic very fast. It is the same void that your trying to fill, it is the same thing, just a different substance that you’re abusing. I want results so I around myself with the best possible chances of getting them. I have nothing against NA and I would go to an NA meeting at anytime, I just prefer AA, even though I was mostly into substance abuse.

I did not have as much of a problem with Alcohol as I did with Drugs. I go to AA (alcoholics anonymous) though; I do not go to NA (narcotics anonymous) really. AA seems to have much better sobriety. One of the reasons it is better is because it is considered the root of the twelve step programs. I have not met one person in AA who never abused a pill. Many newcomers, particularly male, choose to go to NA first, because they are considered addicts and not alcoholics. There is also a large group of young people in NA. In NA you can openly talk about drugs while in AA it is a little less accepted. I know many people who hardly drank ever but they choose to combat their addiction by going to AA. If you were a heroin addict all your life and then one day the only drug left in the world is Alcohol, you’re going to be an alcoholic very fast. It is the same void that your trying to fill, it is the same thing, just a different substance that you’re abusing. I want results so I around myself with the best possible chances of getting them. I have nothing against NA and I would go to an NA meeting at anytime, I just prefer AA, even though I was mostly into substance abuse.